Out-of-Control Toyota Reports Multiplying


On Monday James Sikes, seen at left, drove his Toyota Prius down a southern California highway when he experienced something now familiar to many Toyota owners: his car was accelerating past his intended speed and wouldn't slow down.

That's when Sikes grabbed his phone dialed 911. (Listen to his call below left) While trying to keep the car under control and hold the phone to his ear, the Prius sped up to 94 miles per hour. Eventually the emergency dispatcher sent a California Highway Patrol car to him, and officers instructed him how to reduce his speed before they accelerated in front of him and — driving bumper-to-bumper — guided the car to a complete stop.

Just two weeks before the alarming incident, Sikes had brought his Prius into a dealership, recall notice in hand, to have a technician look under the hood, but the dealership turned him away.

As federal officials begin an investigation to determine what caused Sikes' Prius to race out of control, a congressional committee revealed Wednesday that investigators are also looking at an incident involving a Lexus in nearby San Diego, reports CBS News Correspondent Nancy Cordes.

On Friday, an employee of a San Diego dealership was driving his 2006 Lexus IS 350 when he tapped the accelerator to beat a yellow light, Cordes reports. When he took his foot from the gas pedal, the car didn't slow down but continued to speed up. He put the car in neutral and coasted to the next traffic light. With the car in neutral, the driver tapped the gas pedal three times before the engine returned to normal. The car is on lockdown until federal investigators check it next week.

Even with executives from the Japanese car company apologizing to lawmakers and with television commercials advertising that their service centers are open around the clock, any time it appears like Toyota is moving past the problems in its cars another accident happens on U.S. roadways.

Local Video from CBS 2 HD in New York

On Tuesday, a housekeeper pulled out of her driveway in Harrison, N.Y., when the 2005 Prius shot across the street and smashed into a stone wall, ruining the front end.

"It's hard for us to determine whether it was a stuck accelerator or whether or not the vehicle accelerated for some other reason," Harrison Police Capt. Anthony Marracini told CBS News Station WCBS-TV in New York.

Further north, in Yarmouth, Mass., Anne Wilkins was behind the wheel of her Toyota Rav 4 when the SUV slammed into a medical building Tuesday. The accident happened after she brought the vehicle to her dealer in February to prevent its gas pedal from sticking, reports CBS News Station WBZ-TV in Boston. Local police plan to test the vehicle this weekend to determine whether Toyota's recall issues contributed to the crash.

This week's incidents add to others that have been reported since Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda apologized for his company's lapses in safety and told a congressional panel that his managers will drive cars under investigation to experience potential problems first hand.

Local Video from WBZ in Boston

For example, the owner of a 2009 Camry, Stewart Stogel, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., told The Associated Press he narrowly missed driving over an embankment and hitting a wall when the mid-size sedan accelerated on its own Feb. 27, five days after being serviced as part of the recall.

Stogel said the car had accelerated two previous times before the recall fix, and both times he took it to dealerships to be checked. In one case it was inspected by a Toyota corporate technician who could find nothing wrong, he said.

Carolyn Kimbrell, 59, a retired office assistant in Whitesville, Ky., told the AP her 2006 Toyota Avalon accelerated around the same time as she was returning with her 9-year-old granddaughter from a trip to the mall. The incident occurred a week after her dealer inserted a metal piece into the gas pedal mechanism on Feb. 20 to eliminate the friction blamed for the pedal problems.

The dealer said her car wasn't covered by the floor mat recall, but agreed to do that fix after she reported the latest incident, she said.

Now she wonders if the company's remedies will solve the problem. "It just scares you," Kimbrell said.

More on Toyota's Troubles:

911 Call Reveals Prius Driver's Terror

Toyota's Prius Recall Coming "Soon"

Toyota Fires Away at Acceleration Theory

House Panel Seeks Details on Toyota Recall

New Reports of Post-Recall Toyota Troubles

No Fix? Trouble with Some Repaired Toyotas

Senate Committee Members' Toyota Links

NYT: Troubles Predate Recalled Toyotas

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com